Knights in shining armor. White horses. Fair maidens. All the magnificent trappings of a bygone era come to life at Medieval Times, where ironclad knights clash for the title of King's Champion in front of a wide-eyed audience that peppers the battlefield with cheers and jeers between bites of a four-course dinner. Each two-hour tournament channels the pageantry and spectacle of 11th-century Spain, pitting six competitors against each other inside a spacious, sand-filled arena for the honor of earning the title of champion and the favor of the royal court. A spirited musical score infuses epic onslaughts with an extra dose of tension as adversaries joust atop stallions, deflect ferocious blows, and slice through suits forged of authentic junk mail. To further immerse guests in the fairy tale, Medieval Times encourages each guest to declare their allegiance by cheering loudly for the knight in their corner.
Like royal guests centuries ago, spectators bask in the revelry while feasting upon a finger-friendly bill of fare without the aid of utensils or the "choo-choo" sounds of parents. The four-course feast includes a tomato-bisque soup starter, oven-roasted chicken with a garlic-bread side, single spare rib, and an herb-basted potato. Servers periodically fill patrons? goblets with soda or water, which adults can supplement with purchases from a full-service bar. Meals conclude with the castle's sweet pastry dessert.
Artist Joanne Hunter opened The Art Garden as a place where children and adults could engage their creative minds and escape the clutches of modern technology, such as video games or iPods set on bear traps. She explained her goals to Meghan Kotowski at the Gwinnett Daily Post, saying, "I want kids away from controllers, cell phones, TV remotes. I want them to sit in conversation and use their imagination." Under her fun-loving guidance, people from all walks of life explore the art of painting and assemble themed projects using attic treasures, scrap metal, and other mixed media.
Hunter encourages self-expression during open studio sessions, weekly kids' classes, and group events such as birthday parties or girls' nights out. Hunter keeps works in progress on a brag wall, so-named for its incessant boasting about how it makes a perfect 90-degree angle with the floor.
Roller skating often evokes images of ‘50s-era teens clad in poodle skirts and the black-and-white makeup that was customary at the time. But at both freshly renovated Sparkles Family Fun Centers, roller-skating proves itself as a 21st-century pastime by incorporating contemporary technology. From a DJ who spins family-friendly beats at both locations to the laser-tag zone and black lights that set the Gwinnett rink aglow, modern-day touches pervade each space. The arcades are stuffed with extra helpings of bells and whistles; skee-ball and electronically scored basketball compete for attention with racing video games that re-create famous auto duels or the 1954 Drake Relays. At nearby multistory indoor playgrounds, kids get back to physical recreation, scurrying across bridges and whipping down slick slides.
Since its 1965 founding in Venice Beach, California, Gold's Gym has dotted the globe with more than 600 locations where professional athletes and exercise newbies gather under the umbrella of personal strength. Nearly 3.5 million Gold's members chart and aim for their fitness peaks, perspiring beneath the gaze of certified personal trainers or pedaling beside peers during group riding sessions. In a diverse lineup of group classes, patrons strengthen abs with core-building classes, fuse Pilates and yoga during Centergy classes, and amp up heart rates with the pulsating Latin-dance moves of Zumba routines. Many Gold's Gym locations stockpile futuristic amenities, such as cardio machines with individual iPod docks and televisions that help keep patrons motivated by only showing Gatorade commercials.
Connected to C3 Church, C3 Fitness is a community-oriented exercise facility with fitness programs for the whole family. Its signature class, C3 CrossFit, encourages competition?but only between athletes and their previous personal bests. The rigorous class centers on high-intensity interval training and power lifting, with other conditioning and strength work mixed in. Complementary workout classes range from yoga and Pilates sessions, which build lean muscle and flexibility, to FitKid programs, designed for ages 4?12. Patrons can also drop their kids at onsite childcare during their workouts to prevent them from begging for a pet treadmill. Other amenities, such as an online exercise and nutrition tracker, further enhance fitness regimens.
In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in locations around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their child?s development, their child learns to paint, play music, and interact socially outside of preschool knitting circles.